By: Jadon Webb, M.D., Ph.D.
We’ve all been cooped up with our families for the past few weeks, and the emotional results of this have been… well, variable!
Spending this much time with family, even the ones you normally get along with, can easily take its toll. But it’s also the relationship building opportunity of a lifetime, if used properly.
I interviewed Heidi Sauder, PhD, a psychologist in the Denver area and owner of Enrich Relationship Center of Colorado, about connecting with your spouse during quarantine. She is a true relationship expert, and quite good at helping couples reconnect and find happiness together.
Heidi suggested we think of creating “connection during chaos.” In her words, “decide to make your time together meaningful. It is often easier to focus on the negative or the things you can’t do or that are difficult. You don’t have to fall into that trap. Focus on and discuss your strengths as individuals and as a couple and how this sets you up to have valuable time together.”
I liked how she phrased it as something to intentionally decide to do. It’s not something that will just passively happen. Here are some more practical suggestions she gives to her clients trying to grow closer to their spouse:
If you get stuck, download Gottman’s card decks for ideas on conversations and activities.
Heidi also pointed out how you can make more out of mundane life activities. She calls it creating new rituals of connection: Maybe you’ve hurried out the door in the past with barely a peck on the cheek. Explore how saying “hello” and “goodbye” could feel more sensual or fun. Turn back the clock a bit and behave like you used to when dating!
If you have kids, make sure to create your own time together where the kids do not intrude. Even if that means bribing them with video games or TV so that they leave you alone for an hour.
Heidi shared a really cool resource for psychologically analyzing yourself. Consider taking these tests alone or with your significant other from AuthenticHappiness.org, through the University of Pennsylvania. Their Values in Action Questionnaire measures and rank orders your characterological strengths and virtues. If you have children, they have a version for them too. It’s a great way to discover more about each other and grow together!
about the authorS
Jadon Webb, M.D., Ph.D.
Bloom Mental Health
Disclaimer: this blog is NOT intended as medical advice and does not imply any kind of specific guidance or treatment recommendations, and should NOT be used to guide a treatment protocol. (read full disclaimer)
DNP, MSN, FNP-BC
Family Nurse Practitioner